Emergency Poll Freakout

There’s a new national survey from Monmouth. Joe Biden is third. He’s below 20%. There are two ways to look at this:

WTF!?!?

Or

Meh

Let’s see which makes more sense. We’ll begin with the 6.7 on the Political Richter Scale scenario.

Concern #1: Monmouth doesn’t usually hate Biden.

Last time they had him at 32%. Now 19%. The previous result was a couple percent below the RCP average from that part of June. If the same ratio holds, Biden might not be at 19% but he would be in the very low 20s.

A candidate in the high 20s/low 30s, as he’s been in the majority of surveys for the past couple months has a much better chance of getting nominated than someone where this indicates he is. 21% is shaky for a candidate with his name recognition and visibility. 28% is enough to win multiple early voting states.

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Flies on an Elephant’s Back

Bill Weld announced his Republican primary challenge months ago. As of yesterday morning, Joe Walsh is in. Mark Sanford is thinking about it, and will decide in the next week or two. Should Donald Trump be concerned? Break out in a cold sweat? Or mostly disregard?

A primary challenge is deadly. Since primaries were invented in the early 20th century, an incumbent president has never lost a single primary or caucus and gone on to win re-election.

It’s very hard to prevent a incumbent from being re-nominated if they’re determined to proceed. Trump controls the party apparatus. There’s no getting around it. The Republican National Committee and Trump’s re-election campaign are one in the same.

So our question is whether Weld, Walsh, and Sanford represent flies on an elephant’s back, or whether they could do well enough to make it almost impossible for Trump to win in November 2020.

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Requiem for a Candidate: Seth Moulton

You couldn’t have designed a more perfect candidacy. To fail. He’s too centrist. He lacks a national brand. He entered the contest later than most. He’s a straight white male. He’s a Congressman, not a Senator or ex-VP.

One or two of those are surmountable. Not all. With Pete Buttigieg and Julian Castro around, there were more compelling youthful choices. Moulton wasn’t even the most prominent candidate from his home state of Massachusetts.

His congressional district beckons. He’s facing multiple primary challengers for 2020. Several candidates will prompt a Requiem article over the next few weeks. The speed of exit is directly tied to other electoral opportunities. It’s no accident that Eric Swalwell, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, and Moulton were the first to get out.

The minute Steve Bullock decides he’d like to run for senator, he’ll get his Requiem piece. Otherwise, he, like already out of office John Delaney, several years before re-election Michael Bennet, and anything to get out of doing his day job Bill deBlasio will persist for a bit.

So we’re done here, yes?

Not yet. One more topic.

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Requiem for a Candidate: Jay Inslee

Remember Tom Tancredo’s presidential campaign? If you don’t, you’re not exactly alone. He dropped out of the 2008 GOP contest in late 2007, and hasn’t won elected office since. Like Jay Inslee, he was a single issue candidate.

Tancredo was all about immigration and the border. He’d announced in early 2005 that he would become a candidate if other candidates didn’t adequately address illegals (I don’t believe the term “undocumented” ever passed his lips.)

His candidacy went nowhere, and he endorsed Mitt Romney for 2008 as he left the building. You may recall Romney was far to the right of opponents like John McCain on immigration. Same in 2012 compared to Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich.

As a Massachusetts governor who had once run for senator to the left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights, this was an opportunity for Romney to show his conservative bona fides. After Obamacare, which was similar to Romneycare in Massachusetts, passed, taking a hard line on immigration became even more important.

It made a legit difference. Romney got endorsements from conservatives like Ann Coulter. This sort of backing was a big part of his 2012 nomination. But in the general election, it was the worst of both worlds. His plan to have people self-deport was mocked.

Voters who cared about border control didn’t turn out. Latinx voters opted for Obama by a 3 to 1 margin. This helped create the opening and logic for Donald Trump.

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Rock, Paper, Scissors

You can usually tell when pundits are getting bored. It’s hard to do your regular cable news hit, send a constant stream of tweets, when there isn’t that much happening. We aren’t waiting on new candidates to announce they’re entering the race. Anyone quitting this early wasn’t getting attention anyway.

It’s a few weeks until the next debate. And debates get old after a bit too. Donald Trump isn’t really jousting with the Dem candidates very much. Joe Biden has gone a few days without a gaffe. Kamala Harris changed her health care position again. This is what the summertime blues look like.

If you need additional proof, I was thiiiis close to writing a piece about Mark Sanford today. Warning: it’s still fermenting.

So thoughts turn to what if Candidate X was up against Candidate Y one-on-one. It’s easy to get sucked in. We all have our theories. Biden would lose one-on-one because though he’s the most popular, a majority of voters want a non-Biden choice.

Biden would win one-on-one because none of the others are considered safe enough to a majority of voters. Bernie would do better than Warren because he already got 43.5% to pick him last time. Warren would do better than Bernie because he lost the last two-person contest he was in.

Harris would win because once she doesn’t have to worry about standing out, she’s a good compromise. Harris would lose because the other contenders have stronger followings.

Good news. We get to keep speculating for a bit. Results, courtesy of HarrisX are in. It’s a giant game of rock, paper, scissors.

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Warren v. Sanders: Is it Even a Contest?

Elizabeth Warren has consigned Bernie Sanders to the dustbin. A recent national Fox News poll has her leading him 21% to 10%. To show you how much she’s surged and he’s collapsed, in March, Fox had him ahead of her 23% to 4%.

While national surveys get more attention, the race begins in Iowa. The results of the first caucus drive the narrative going forward. The most recent survey from Monmouth has Warren at 19%, Sanders at 9%.

This is a reversal from the April results which showed Sanders at 16% and Warren at 7%. Overall, the Iowa Democratic electorate far prefers Warren. Her Favorable/Unfavorable number is +62. This is the highest of any candidate. He’s at +25, lower than Amy Klobuchar, and needing a periscope to get near Harris, Biden, or Buttigieg.

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Polling Update: Mid-August Standings

Greetings! It’s time for a fresh look at the numbers. When we last did this, 10 days ago, there wasn’t evidence of a big post-debate bounce or collapse for anyone. The headlines are indicating Elizabeth Warren has advanced a bit further. How true is this? Has she separated herself from Bernie Sanders?

To see supporting data, check out:

Real Clear Politics

FiveThirtyEight

Reminder: The RCP list is more limited, but more closely mirrors the polls being considered by the DNC for debate qualification. Past history has shown some of the additional surveys listed by FiveThirtyEight can be predictive, though they can’t help candidates get to debate.

We have several individuals or groupings to look at:

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Requiem for a Candidate: John Hickenlooper

Let’s compare two candidates. We’ll pick up their story in late 2010.

Candidate A: After working as a geologist, he found himself unemployed after a corporate buyout, during a historic downturn in the oil market. Facing a career crossroads, he borrowed money from friends, family, and the local economic development fund to launch one of the first brewpubs in the country.

In launching and sustaining his business, Candidate A got very involved in the community, becoming mayor in 2003. Quickly recognized as one of the most popular and effective mayors in the country, he won re-election in 2007 with 88% of the vote, drawing bipartisan support. In November 2010, he takes the next step and becomes governor.

Candidate B: High school valedictorian. Graduated with distinction from Harvard. Went to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. Worked a series of short-term lower level political jobs. Spent a few minutes as a consultant at McKinsey. Ran for state treasurer as a Democrat in a red state and lost by more than 20 points.

Nine years later, Candidate A and Candidate B both run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Candidate A makes zero impact, and withdraws six months ahead of the Iowa Caucus. Candidate B raises more money than the other 20+ candidates in the second quarter, and sits securely in fifth place in national polls, running closer in Iowa and New Hampshire than overall.

What happened in between?

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The Big Three

As of this morning, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren control a full two-thirds of total national polling support in the Democratic nomination contest. The remaining 20+ contestants are good for a quarter, with about 8% of poll respondents in the pit of indecision.

Here’s another way to look at the standings:

Biden 30.3%

Kamala+Pete+Beto+Booker 19.1%

Warren 18.5%

Bernie 17.5%

Undecided 7.8%

All Others 6.2%

Kamala Harris made this a four person race for a minute after the first debate round. Not only did she start fading quickly, but is now all the way back to where she was before landing that right cross on Biden. When she’s having a good moment, Harris is the Goldilocks candidate. When she’s not, she’s too hot for some, and too cold for the rest. We may hear from her again, but for now, she’s in a different tier.

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Being a Billionaire Doesn’t Suck

The Democratic electorate has no interest in John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet, Jay Inslee, or Steve Bullock. Four current or very recent governors or senators, popular with their home states. The most current estimates have all four missing the next round of debates. You need four qualifying polls of two percent or higher. These four individuals have combined for one. Only Inslee is anywhere near the additional 130,000 donor requirement. Thank u, next.

Tim Ryan, John Delaney, and Seth Moulton, please exit the campaign bus. Three current or former representatives, with nary a constituency. Then there’s Bill deBlasio. He’s not going anywhere either, but at least he can say his national favorability ratings have surpassed his NYC ones in negativity. Hey, somebody has to be the least popular politician in America. I almost forgot to mention Joe Sestak. Would you have noticed if I had?

Random white male politicians don’t have any use in the 2020 Democratic nomination contest. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and what’s left of Beto O’Rourke have filled this category in full. Two famous old guys, two young pups with suitable narratives. We’re good here.

If one is willing to accept the Democrats just aren’t looking for a pseudo-centrist, 1992 Bill Clinton-style nominee, even one suitable for the Me Too Era, next month’s debate stage in Houston will be plenty diverse. In addition to the four white guys who made the cut, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Andrew Yang are in.

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